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The Scottish Nation

DUNS, JOHN, commonly called DUNS SCOTUS, an eminent scholastic divine and theological disputant, was born, according to some writers, in 1264, or, as others say, ten years thereafter. He is supposed to have been a native of Dunse in Berwickshire, but some English authors contend that his birthplace was Dunstance, near Alnwick, in Northumberland. When a boy, two Franciscan friars, while begging for their monastery, came to his father’s house, and, finding him to be a youth of extraordinary capacity, prevailed on him to accompany them to Newcastle, where they persuaded him to enter their fraternity. From thence he was sent to Merton college, Oxford, and, becoming celebrated for his skill in scholastic theology, civil law, logic, and mathematics, he was in 1301 appointed professor of divinity, when, it is said, the fame of his learning and eloquence attracted scholars from all parts to his lectures. In 1304 he was sent by the general of the Franciscan order to Paris, where he was honoured with the degrees, first of bachelor, and then of doctor in divinity. At a meeting of the monks of his order at Toulouse, in 1307, he was created regent, and, about the same time, he was placed at the head of the theological schools at Paris. Here it is affirmed to have first propounded his favourite doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, and having, in a public disputation, refuted two hundred objections urged against it by some divines, he acquired the name of “the most subtle doctor.” Nothing, however, could be more barren and useless than the chimerical abstractions and metaphysical refinements which obtained for him this title. He was at first a follower of Thomas Aquinas, but, differing with him on the subject of the efficacy of divine grace, he formed a distinct sect, called the Scotists, in contradistinction to the Thomists. In 1308 he was sent to Cologne by the head of his order; and, not long after his arrival there, he was cut off by apoplexy, November 8 of that year, in the forty-fourth, or, according to some writers, in the thirty-fourth, year of his age; and, it is stated, was buried before he was actually dead, as was discovered by an examination of his grave. He was the author of a vast number of works, which were collected by Lucas Wadding, in 12 vols. folio, and published, with his Life, at Lyons, in 1639; but which have long since been consigned to hopeless oblivion. A life of him by Mr. Pinkerton appeared in the Scots Magazine for 1817. The titles of his various writings are subjoined from Watt’s Bibliotheca Britannica:

      Questiones super primam Sententiarum, ab Antonia Tronbeta emendatae. Ven. 1472. Very rare.

      Questiones in quartum Librum Sententiarum. 1472, fol. Par. 1513, 4 vols. fol. Ven. 1597, fol. Et cum Vita Scoti, editae ab Hugone Cavello. Ant. 1620, fol.

      Quodlibeta. Ven. 1474, fol. Ven. 1477, fol.

      Commentarii in primam partem Sententiarum, studio Thomae Pelreth, Anglici. Ven. per J. de Colonia, et Joan. Mant. de Geretzheim. 1477, fol.

      Quest. in tertium Sentent. Ven. 1478, fol. Very scarce.

      Questiones in Metaphysicam Aristotelis. Ejusdem de primo Rerum Principio, et Theoremata, cum Castigat. Mauritii Hibernici. Ven. 1491, fol. Ven. 1501, fol. Et ab Antonio Andrea. Par. 1520, fol.

      Quest. super Libros Priorum Arist. Ven. 1504, 4to.

      Quest. super Universalia Porphyrii, Aristotelis Predicamenta, et Perihermenias, et Libros Elenchorum, correctae per Mauritium de Portu Hib. Ven. 1512, fol.

      Quest. super Libros Priorum et Posteriorum Arist. Ven. 1512, fol.

      Quest. quolibitates, cum Reportatis Petri Thatareti. Par. 1519, fol.

      Opera Omnis, cum Notis et Comm. à P.P. Hibernis Collegii Romani S. Isidori Professoribus, cum Vita per Luc. Waddingum. Lugd. 1639, &c. 12 vols. fol. A very scarce collection.

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